Ali During the Reign of Caliph Abu Bakr
by S. Abul Hasan Nadwi
The Decisive Hour
Excerpted from "The Life
of Caliph Ali" by Abul Hasan Nadwi
The death of the Prophet
was a decisive as well as a dangerous juncture for the life and death of
Islam. Islam was, at best, like a small island surrounded by the sea of
paganism, polytheistic beliefs, unruly traditions of the Arabian nomads
and despotic kingdoms. Arabs had only recently accepted Islam but they
had no experience of a corporate social order or leading a disciplined
All the great religions of
the world, which had in their own time prevailed over vast spaces and claimed
allegiance of great many peoples and nations, had already so deviated from
their original teachings or fallen prey to internal schisms and intrigues
or external encroachments that they had become almost lifeless. The only
reason why these religions had lost their vital spark was that those who
had been charged with the responsibility of guiding their co-religionists,
after the death of the founders of those religions, lacked any deep perception
of the teachings and objectives of their religions, or were short of sincerity
and steadfastness so essential for the immediate successors of prophets
and architects of great religions. They were also deficient in zeal and
carefulness and anxiety required for preserving the purity of their faiths
at a crucial stage. Often they were worldly-minded or had a craving for
fame and honour. The result was that these religions were assimilated by
philosophies and cults that had been designed to destroy them. It also
happened sometimes that a religion became resigned to the current of the
time in order to serve the interests of potentates but the result was that
it became a tool of exploitation, gained a little advantage but lost heavily.
Brahminism, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism had to undergo such transformations
in their initial stages. Judaism was no exception to this misfortune and
the Christianity was caught by a dangerous manipulation soon after Jesus
Let us first see what happened
to Judaism and Christianity, both of which were based on revelation and
Islam recognises their followers as 'people of the Book.' Contamination
of Judaism in its earliest period has been thus described in the Jewish
Encyclopaedia; "The thunderings of the Prophets against idolatry show,
however, that the cults of the deities were deeply rooted in the heart
of the Israeli people, and they do not appear to have been thoroughly suppressed
until the return from the Babylonian exile . . . Through mysticism and
magic many polytheistic customs again found their way among the people,
and the Talmud confirms the fact that idolatrous worship is seductive.
Christianity had fallen a
prey, in its very infancy, to the misguided fervour of its overzealous
evangelists, polytheism of the Romans and unwarranted interpretations of
its tenets by ignorant church fathers. The monotheistic creed preached
by Jesus Christ had been overcast by the gloomy clouds of deviations for
which St. Paul (c. 10-65) was primarily responsible, for he had usurped
the authority of expounding the Christian creed as head of the church.
A number of Christian scholars have since reached the conclusion that the
present Christian creed of Trinitarianism implying incarnation and anthropomorphism,
taken over from Buddhism, was introduced into Christianity not by the apostles
of Jesus Christ but by St. Paul. These heterodox beliefs have been preserved
as the official creed of the Orthodox Church during the last nineteen hundred
Ancient Hinduism or Brahminism
had changed its course in the very beginning of its journey : shorn of
its simplicity and spiritual link with the Lord and Master of the world,
it had developed a passion for idolatry and multiplicity of deities so
earnestly that their number is reported to have reached 330 million.
Buddhism fared no better
than Hinduism: the mutilated form of later Buddhism had hardly preserved
anything of Gautama Buddha's original teachings. It also became so intensely
idolatrous in its creed and practice that there remained almost nothing
to distinguish it from Hinduism except the names of idols and deities.
Their fervour for idolatry, escalated to the extent that but, the
word for idol in Persian and Urdu, came to be derived from Buddha itself.
Zoroastrianism, too, met
the same fate as maintained by the authors of the Religions of the World.
They say : "Zoroaster had hardly passed from the scene before a reaction
in the nature of a counter-reformation restored the old gods with their
ancient cults. They were welcomed with enthusiasm by persons who had long
found satisfaction in them. The magi[an] priests, who spearheaded the restoration,
celebrated their return to the ancient alters. Zoroaster's faith, which
had bravely set forth as monotheism, now found itself submerged in a reinstated
Succession to the Prophet
- Demands and Conditions
The death of the holy Prophet
was as inevitable as the difficulties that the incident was likely to bring
about. This was the way of God which never changes.
(That had been)
the dispensation of Allah with those who have passed away, and thou shall
not find any change in the dispensation of Allah. [Qur'an 33:62]
The only way to survive in such
a difficult situation was to elect such a successor of the Prophet who
had been gifted by God with the qualities and capacity to reject all aberrations
and deviations and was able to keep Islam strictly on the path chalked
out by the Prophet. Such a man had to have the following qualities:
(1) He must have enjoyed
full confidence of the Prophet ever since his acceptance of Islam; the
Prophet must have evoked his sincerity and entrusted to him the responsibility
of acting on his behalf, particularly in matters relating to religion,
and taken him in confidence in delicate affairs and on perilous occasions.
(2) He had to be a
man of such indomitable courage and conviction that at a time when the
entire fabric of faith was in danger, when other lifelong companions of
the Prophet had become dejected, he should have stuck to his guns. His
determination to face the most adverse circumstances should have been reminiscent
of the fortitude of the prophets of old, who never compromised on any matter
pertaining to faith and creed.
(3) He should have
had a deep comprehension of the religious truth and imbibed its spirit
to the extent that he was never unmindful of the example set by the Prophet
in times of war and peace, fear and calm, unity and breach and poverty
(4) Pristine purity
and integrity of his faith should have been a thing more cherished and
precious to him than the honour of his own person or family and he should
have always been prepared to make the greatest sacrifice for it, unshaken
by any fear or favour.
(5) He should have
made it the aim and purpose of his life to accomplish and make perfect
the teachings of the Prophet without deflecting a hair's-breadth from them.
(6) He should have
been unmindful of riches and fame and personal conveniences like the Prophet.
His character should have been so spotless that he should have never conceived
of taking any personal advantage of his position as a ruler nor allowed
his family marking a complete break from the traditions of royalty in the
Abu Bakr - An Ideal Successor
Abu Bakr had all the above
mentioned qualities. His life during the time of the Prophet and during
the period of his caliphate demonstrates his steadfastness. There is absolutely
nothing - not even one incident - to cast any doubt about his character
The following incidents [will]
demonstrate that Abu Bakr had all the qualities mentioned above.
(1) To what extent
the Prophet placed reliance on Abu Bakr is revealed by the fact that he
had selected Abu Bakr to accompany him in the most dangerous journey of
migration from Makkah to Medina. It was the time when the Prophet's enemies
were waiting in ambush for him. No man endowed with reason could trust
and share his secret with anyone in whom he did not have an implicit faith
on such an occasion. The Prophet knew that any false step would mean a
disaster and that those pursuing him would not leave any stone unturned
to capture or kill him. A close confidant willing to lay down his life
for his master would have alone been trusted to accompany anyone in such
a hazardous journey.
Abu Bakr's companionship
on the journey undertaken by the Prophet for migration has been immortalized
in the Qur'an as 'second of the two.'
When those who
disbelieved banished him, the second of the two; when the two were in a
cave, and when he said to his companion, "do not grieve, verily Allah is
This is an honour solitary and
unrivalled, that Abu Bakr enjoys among the Prophet's companions. So far
as the question of appointing anyone as a deputy to superintend the religious
service is concerned, fasting and payment of the poor-due need no representative
since these can be performed by every man individually; a deputy is required
to lead the prayers and to act as a director during the Hajj. Abu
Bakr was the only companion who acted as the Prophet's viceregent for these
two religious services during the lifetime of the Prophet.
Abu Bakr thus enjoys the
unique distinction of being appointed by the Prophet to lead the prayers.
'Ubaydullah b. 'Abdullah relates; "I called upon 'Aisha and said: 'Is it
possible that you tell me about the illness and death, of the Prophet of
God (peace be upon him) in some detail.' She replied, 'Of course. When
the Prophet's illness became severe, he enquired whether the people had
performed the prayer. We said, "No, they are waiting for you." The Prophet
asked [for water to be brought to him] in a basin. It was brought and he
sat down and took a bath. He fell unconscious as he tried to get up. On
regaining consciousness after a short while he again asked if the people
had performed the prayer. We said, "No, they have not and are waiting for
you." The Prophet again asked to bring water in a basin. It was brought
as desired by him. He tried to lift the basin, and fell unconscious. He
regained consciousness before long and again asked if the people had performed
prayers. He was again told that they had not, and were awaiting his arrival.
Thereafter he lost consciousness and on regaining it after a short while
he again repeated his question. We gave the same reply while people were
sitting in the mosque expecting the Prophet to lead the isha prayer.
The Prophet sent for Abu Bakr to lead the congregation. When the message
reached Abu Bakr, he asked Umar to superintend the prayer since he was
very tender-hearted. But Umar refused saying that he [Abu Bakr] was more
suitable for the task. Thus Abu Bakr acted as the imam during that
period. When the Prophet felt somewhat better and the effects of illness
decreased, he went out supported by two men, one of whom was 'Abbas. It
was the time for
zuhr prayer. Abu Bakr was about to lead the prayer
but he hesitated when he saw the Prophet coming to the .mosque. The Prophet
signalled him to get ahead and lead the prayer. He asked those supporting
him to let him be seated by the side of Abu Bakr. The Prophet thus led
the prayer in a sitting posture while Abu Bakr stood leading others. Ubaydullah
further says that after he listened this account from 'Aisha he went to
'Abdullah b. 'Abbas and asked him whether he should relate what he knew
about the death of Prophet. 'Abdullah b. 'Abbas gave his consent and he
rehearsed the report. 'Abdullah b. 'Abbas endorsed it and asked, "Did 'Aisha
tell you the name of the person who supported the Prophet along with 'Abbas
in going to the mosque?" 'Ubaydullah said,' No,' and then 'Abdullah informed
him : 'He was 'Ali'." [Sahih Bukhari, Muslim]
There is another report also
related by Abu Musa who says, "When the Prophet became seriously ill he
ordered the people to tell Abu Bakr to lead the prayers. 'Aisha said entreatingly,
'O Prophet of Allah, Abu Bakr is very tender-hearted. He will not be able
to lead the prayer in place of you.' The Prophet repeated his order saying,
Abu Bakr to lead the prayer. Women speak in the same way as they did to
The Prophet deputed Abu Bakr
to direct the Hajj ceremonies in his place. It involved a great
responsibility and meant a compliment to him. Hajj was made incumbent
in 9 A. H. and the Prophet sent Abu Bakr in command of the Hajj in that
very year to enable the Muslims to perform the pilgrimage while the polytheists
were at their pilgrim stations. The number of Muslims performing Hajj with
Abu Bakr was three hundred.
(2) The inflexible
determination and tenacity of Abu Bakr was revealed in the hour of greatest
trial of the Muslims. The death of the Prophet had stunned the Muslims.
Some of .them even refused to accept that the Prophet could ever die. A
man like 'Umar, known for his sagacity and stout heart, declared that the
Prophet had not died. He asserted in the mosque before the people who had
gathered there, 'The Prophet will not depart until all the disaffected
have perished.' At this critical hour Muslims needed a man of iron-will.
As soon as Abu Baker came to know what had happened, he came from his house
and dismounted from his horse at the door of the mosque as 'Umar was speaking
to the people. He paid no attention to anyone and went in straight to 'Aisha's
home where the Prophet was lying covered by a mantle. He uncovered the
face of the Prophet and kissed him, saying, 'May my father and mother be
a ransom for you. You have tasted the death which God had decreed: a second
death will never overtake you. Then he replaced the mantle on the Prophet's
face and went out. 'Umar was still speaking and he said, 'Gently, 'Umar,
be quiet.' But 'Umar refused and went on talking, and when Abu Bakr saw
that 'Umar would not be silent he went forward to the people who, when
they heard him speaking, came to him leaving 'Umar. Giving thanks and praises
to God he said, 'O men, if anyone worships Muhammad, let him know that
Muhammad is dead; if anyone worships God, then God is alive, immortal.'
Then he recited the Quranic verse:
Muhammad is naught
save an Apostle. Apostles have passed away before him. Can it be that were
he to die or be killed, you would turn back on your heels ? He who turns
back does no harm to God and God will richly recompense the grateful.
Those who were present on the
occasion testified: 'By God, it was as though the people did not know that
this verse had come down until Abu Bakr recited it that day.' 'Umar said,
'When I heard Abu Bakr reciting this verse, I was astounded and knew that
the Prophet was indeed dead.'
(3) How deep was his
understanding of Islam, and how zealous he was to adhere to the path shown
by the Prophet, is disclosed by his remark when he came to know that several
Arab tribes had refused to pay the poor-due and questioned its validity.
His meaningful utterance reveals his emotions and state of mind, and helps
to determine his place among the most earnest followers of Islam. Abu Bakr
had asserted: 'Revelation has been discontinued, the
been completed: will the religion be curtailed while I am alive. Those
who had refused to pay the poor-due claimed that they were Muslims and
acknowledged other injunctions of Islam. This had made several eminent
companions uncertain about the lawfulness of waging war against them. But
Abu Bakr was resolute and absolutely clear in his mind; he never vacillated
in his stand. It is related that he said, "I will fight these tribes even
if they refuse to give a halter. Poor-due is a levy on wealth and, by God,
I will fight him who differentiates between the prayer and poor-due."
There can be no denying the
fact that refusal to pay the poor-due at that stage would have opened the
way to deviation from the teachings of the Prophet and encouraged rebellion
and anarchy. Had Abu Bakr been complaisant or lukewarm in suppressing the
unruly tribes, aberrations would have started cropping up and nobody would
have been able to curb them subsequently. Objections would have been raised
about the congregational and Friday prayers being held in the mosques,
the month of Ramadan being earmarked for fasting and the rituals performed
during the Hajj or similar other matters. The Prophet's successors
or the caliphs and the institution of jurisconsults keeping a watch over
the Shari'ah, Islamic injunctions and its limits would have been
rendered ineffectual. Islam would have scattered like the pearls of a broken
necklace immediately after the Prophet's death. The stern attitude adopted
by Abu Bakr, avoiding the least acquiescence and indecision, therefore,
seems to have been inspired by God. It incidently, evinces the truth of
Islam and that it is still present in its original shape to this day.
(4) It is thus a historical
fact that the role of Caliph Abu Bakr in the suppression of apostasy and
the conspiracy to break up Islam in its very beginning, was indicative
of the character of the prophets of God - none of whom had ever compromised
with ungodliness in his own time. This was the characteristic required
of a successor to the Prophet which was displayed in full measure by Abu
Bakr during the period of his caliphate. Indeed, he deserves thanks and
invocation of all Muslims from the first day to the last.
(5) Yet another decision
taken by Caliph Abu Bakr reveals his acumen in the matters relating to
the likes and dislikes of the Prophet, the underlying reasons therefor
and his sincerity to implement them meticulously in accordance with the
wishes of the Prophet. Shortly before his death the Prophet had decided
to despatch an expedition to Syria under Usama. The army had actually left
Medina and bivouacked at Juraf, at a little distance from Medina when the
Prophet breathed his last. Abu Bakr insisted on its departure to give effect
to his master's last wishes although [since] Medina [was] hemmed in on
all sides in those days, anyone would have hardly dared taking this action.
There was the danger of apostates attacking Medina or other unruly tribes
taking advantage of the chaotic conditions prevailing around the capital
of infant Islamic State.
Abu Huraira has correctly
estimated the far-reaching effect of the decision taken by Abu Bakr. Abul
'Araj relates from Abu Huraira : "I swear to God save whom no deity is
there that God would not have been worshipped, if Abu Bakr had not ascended
the caliphate.' Abu Huraira repeated it thrice over and then related the
incident of sending the expedition under Usama. He said, 'Abu Bakr despatched
the army under Usama, saying, 1 will riot allow the army to return already
sent by the Prophet : I will not fold the flag unfurled by the Prophet
!' The result was that when Usama passed the tribes which were disposed
to rebellion and apostasy, they said to one another; 'Had these prople
not been strong enough, they would not have ventured on this expedition.
Let them go and face the Romans.' Thus the army went forth, fought the
Romans and returned after defeating the enemy. Thus the tribes prone to
defection were reassured and continued to remain votaries of Islam."
Those who turned apostate,
repudiating Islam completely and those who gave up Islamic way of worship
like prayers etc., and reverted to paganism have been placed by Khattabi
in the first category of turncoats. Those who made a distinction between
the prayers and the poor-due and denied the obligatory nature of the latter,
were listed by Khattabi in the second category. Caliph Abu Bakr decided
to fight both these groups on the ground that they were all guilty of apostasy.
The latter group had rejected a duty made obligatory by Islam which amounted
to its repudiation. This was the reason why Abu Bakr had declared that
he would fight those who drew a distinction between the prayers and the
poor-due which was a levy on wealth. There was also a third group which
had refused to pay the poor-due to the Caliph. They desired either to utilize
it themselves or spend it within their own tribe under their own supervision,
This group also included certain persons who were agreeable to pay the
poor-due, but their chieftains had forbidden them to do so. Abu Bakr's
reason for waging war against them was that they were rebels who had to
be given battle according to the Quranic injunction and consensus of the
Muslims. Allah had ordained,
"And if one party
of them does wrong to the other, then fight the party which does wrong
till it reverts to the commandment of Allah." [Qur'an 49:9]
Caliph Abu Bakr reduced all
the insurgent tribes to order. Thereafter, he turned to the suppression
of imposters, who had laid a claim to prophethood. Great battles were fought
with them and they were finally defeated. The great imposter Musailama
was killed. Had this menace been allowed to survive, Islam would have been
wiped out. Abu Bakr eradicated the bane of apostasy, crushed those who
had denied to pay the poor-due and sent out eleven armies under different
commanders who beat down the rebels of Sajah, Bani Tamim and al-Fujat with
the result that the people of Bahrain) Mahra and Yemen were received back
in Islam, The number of rebels and apostates who were sent to their doom
in Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula is estimated to be fifty thousand. Ibn
Kathir has correctly stated that: "Abu Bakr brought the fugitives of Islam
back to its fold and truth was re-establised in its original shape. Complete
uniformity was brought in the Arabian Peninsula and no difference remained
between those living far or near."
Muhammad b. Is'haq, who has
been cited by lbn Kathir, says: "When Allah's Apostle died, apostasy broke
out, Christianity and Judaism held up their heads, hypocrisy cropped up
and Muslims became like shrunken goats and sheep in a rainy and cold night,
for the Messenger of Allah had bid farewell to this world. And this state
of affairs continued until Allah unified them under the leadership of Abu
"Abu Bakr despatched Khalid
b. Walid to Iraq who conquered a greater part of it. He also won the battles
of al-Anbar and Dumat al-Jandal. In several other battles Islam emerged
Thus the work of pacification
of the Peninsula was completed by Abu Bakr. It gave Islam a foothold in
the country of its origin which had to remain, for all times to come, its
source and criterion. Islam's tide of conquest engulfed Iraq and Syria
and the Muslims directed their efforts to bring in as much part of the
globe as possible under Islam. They captured one country after another
around Arabia and the process continued under Caliph 'Umar and Caliph 'Uthman.
When Caliph Abu Bakr breathed his last, Damascus had already fallen to
the arms of Islam and the campaign culminating in the decisive battle of
Yarmuk was almost in its last stages. Of a fact, all the subsequent conquests
whether they were made during the caliphate of 'Umar and 'Uthman or in
the Umayyad period owe their origin to the efforts made by Caliph Abu Bakr
during his lifetime. It was because of him that Islam reached the distant
corners of the world.
(6) The two incidents
related here are enough to demonstrate the frugal life of Abu Bakr, his
disdain for the worldly comfort and extreme cautiousness in taking any
advantage as the ruler of a mighty empire.
Once the wife of Abu Bakr
expressed the desire to have some sweet dish, but Abu Bakr dismissed her
saying that he did not possess the money to satisfy her desire. His wife
suggested that she could save something from the daily expenses to purchase
the material for preparing a sweet dish. Abu Bakr agreed and she made the
savings over a period. When she gave that amount to Abu Bakr for purchasing
the required material he deposited it in the public treasury, saying, "Experience
shows that we can do with a smaller amount than what I have been taking
as a stipend." He also directed to reduce his stipend by the amount daily
saved by his wife. He also made good the loss public treasury had suffered
earlier by the excess amount of stipend from his private property.
When Caliph Abu Bakr was
about to die, he said to his daughter : "O A'isha, the camel of which we
used to drink milk and the cup in which we kept sauce and the mantle we
wore are the things we used when we were the guardians of Muslims. After
I am dead, send them to Umar." His wish was complied with and the articles
in question were sent to Umar who thereupon exclaimed, "Abu Bakr, may Allah
bless you. You have placed your successors in a difficult position."
In the ages past, the temporal
and spiritual leaderships were the preserve of particular families. When
Islam made its advent, the world was being crushed by these hereditary
leaderships. Those who wielded the sceptre acted as autocrats although
they had inherited the authority from their fathers, or in accordance with
the will of outgoing kings, or usurped authority through machinations or
superior prowess. Public good or interest of the people never had any say
in the selection of the potentate. The entire income of the country was
treated as personal property of the rulers whose ingenuity was always on
the lookout for increasing their incomes, accumulating vast treasures and
making their lives as pleasurable as possible. It was not [uncommon] that
the kings displayed ostentatious magnificence and pageantry that defied
one's imagination, and is now known only to those who have studied history.
These rulers alienated from the common man by impassable barriers, were
regarded as descendants of celestial beings.
The masses were, on the other
hand, extremely poor and in great distress. The ever-increasing taxes,
burdensome levies) conscriptions and forced labour had crushed the common
man beyond description and they were forced to live like the beasts of
There was also another dominion.
It was the spiritual empire. Its sovereignty was vested in a particular
family or its chosen individuals. Spiritual leadership was the domain of
these people who were revered as demigods. Inherited by the son from his
father and thus continuing from generation to generation, it had its own
economic benefits. Those who were possessed of ecclesiastical authority
manipulated it for satisfying their carnal desires. Treated as the intermediary
between God and His creation, they had the power to make lawful what was
unlawful and vice versa. They promulgated religious laws at their sweet
will. The Qur'an has in its own inimitable manner given a vivid description
of these people which cannot be improved upon by any one.
"O you who believe
: surely many of the priests and monks (of the people of the book) devour
the substance of men in falsehood and hinder (people) from the way of Allah."
Among the Christians these priests
were known by the name of 'clergy.' A Syrian Christian scholar has defined
the word as follows:
"This name was given by the
Christians to the persons ordained, or set apart, for the service of religion.
Their name signifies 'a share' or 'inheritance' almost in the same sense
as Pentateuch assigns priestly rights to the 'sons of Levi'. . . Among
the ancient Egyptians and Hebrews a class was ordained for performing religious
rites. The Christian church had, from the very beginning, ministers who
formulated its policies. If the church was affluent and prosperous, the
clergymen took full advantage of it. They were not merely priests and spiritual
guides, but were also treated as the source of wisdom and knowledge. Under
the Roman Empire they were exempt from all taxes. They were also not required
to do any social service. They had, in a way, a dominion over the people,
within their own sphere and even outside it.'" [P.Bustani, Da'iratul
[The] Zoroastrianism of Iran
was not different from Christianity. A particular clan was marked out for
priesthood. During the past ages, the function was allocated to a tribe
of Media and under Zoroastrianism, the clan of 'al-Moghan held the charge
of spiritual leadership.
The priestly clan was regarded
as the viceregent of God on earth, created to administer the kingdom of
God. It was the prerogative of a particular clan to give birth to the holy
men who were regarded as sharers of divinity and inherited the charge of
oratories or fire-temples.
[The] Brahmins in India had
the monopoly of everything sacred and spiritual. The religious law allocated
them the highest place in society which could never be attained by anyone
not belonging to that caste. "A Brahmin who remembers the Rig Veda,"
says the Manu Shostra, "is absolutely sinless, even if he debases all three
worlds." Neither could any tax be imposed on a Brahmin, nor could he be
executed for any crime. All religious rites were to be performed by the
Brahmin alone. Islam abolished both these hereditary dominions which had
been an instrument of tyranny and misery of the people of which the history
of countries like Rome, Iran and India are replete with examples. Islam
entrusted the responsibility of electing the Caliph to the Muslims - particularly
those who were judicious and well-informed among them, and prescribed the
method of mutual consultation for it. This was the reason why the holy
Prophet had not expressly indicated who will be the head of the Muslim
commonwealth after him. Had it been necessary or a part of his religious
duty, the Prophet would have certainly done so. Had not Allah ordained
Make known that which hath been revealed unto thee from thy Lord, for if
thou do it not, thou will not have conveyed His Message. Allah will protect
thee from mankind. Lo ! Allah guideth not the disbelieving folk." [Qur'an
At another place the divine
revelation had clearly stated:
That was Allah's
way with those who passed away of old - and the commandment of Allah is
certain destiny - who delivered the messages of Allah and feared Him, and
feared none save Allah. Allah keepeth good account. [Qur'an 33:38,39]
Ubaydullah b. 'Abdullah b. 'Utba
narrated that Ibn 'Abbas said: 'When Allah's Apostle was on his death-bed
and there were certain persons in his house, the Prophet said: Come
near, I will write for you something after which you will not go astray'.
Some of them said, 'Allah's Apostle is seriously ill and you have the Qur'an.
Allah's Book is sufficient for us.' So the people in the house differed
and started disputing. When their differences increased and discussion
became louder, Allah's Apostle said, 'Go Away.'
The Prophet remained alive
for three days after this incident, but he did not ask for the writing
material nor specified who would be his successor. He did in fact express
a number of his last wishes but never mentioned the topic of his viceregency.
Of the directions he gave
during this period one was: '(Offer) prayers and
be considerate to those placed in your charge (i. e. slaves
and bondswomen).' 'Ali also relates, 'The Prophet had given instructions
in regard to prayer and poor-due and mildness to those placed under one's
'A'isha and Ibn 'Abbas narrate:
'When the time for departure of Allah's Apostle arrived, he started covering
his face with a black blanket and remained so for a while. Then he uncovered
his face and said, 'Allah's curse be on the Jews and Christians for they
took the graves of their prophets as places of worship.' The Prophet thus
warned and forbade his followers to act like them.
In regard to the incident
relating to the Prophet's desire to bring some writing material to him,
'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad writes:
"The allegation that 'Umar
came in the way of Prophet's dictating a testament and nomination of 'Ali
as the Caliph is extremely contemptible and baseless. Such an imputation
on the character of any distinguished person amounts to his insult, much
less a man like 'Umar. In fact the Prophet did not ask for paper to make
a testament for nominating 'Ali or anybody else as a Caliph, for it was
not at all necessary to make a testament for the purpose. One word, a mere
gesture, as he made for Abu Bakr to lead the prayer, was enough for it.
Everybody understood what the Prophet wanted of Abu Bakr.
'The Prophet remained alive
for three days after asking for paper, but he did not demand it again.
Nobody could dare interpose himself between 'Ali and the Prophet. Fatima,
the wife of 'Ali was present with the Prophet until he breathed his last.
If the Prophet had so wished, he would have sent for 'Ali and nominated
him as his successor.
Apart from the Prophet's
reticence, which was not because of any compulsion or pressure, his usual
practice was to deny positions of authority to the members of his family
and he did not even consider the common rules of inheritance proper for
the Apostle Of God. Now, if one were to see it in the light of his practice
and reticence on this occasion, he would find that nobody interposed himself
nor the Prophet ever had any intention of nominating 'Ali as his Caliph.
AI-'Aqqad has also discussed
the question of transmission of caliphate through inheritance. He has rightly
observed that: "Had it (inheritance) been one of the commandments of God,
then it was queer that the Prophet left this world without any male successor,"
and the Qur'an to take its final shape without saying anything about the
caliphate being transferred to a member of the Prophet's household. And,
had it been the Will of God or a religious necessity, it would have certainly
taken effect as a thing determined made against what had been destined
would have been in vain in the same way as all the labours made against
laws of nature end up in a fiasco.
Therefore, there is no explicit
direction, no circumstantial indication, nor any Providential will to support
those who assert transference of caliphate though inheritance and hold
it to be confined to Hashimites.
Oath of Allegiance to
The Muslims of Medina, both
[the] Ansar and Muhajirin, were sapient [discerning] and influential and
their decision would have been accepted by all in the Arabian Peninsula
and outside it. But they stood at the crossroads when the Prophet bid farewell
to the world. They had either to make a concerted effort for spreading
the message of Islam, and for it to unanimously elect a leader who was
respected by all for his moral virtues. Such a leader had to be very close
to the Prophet during his lifetime, enjoyed his confidence and also been
entrusted with responsibilities on crucial occasions. Alternatively, if
Muslims were not united and lacked unanimity of thought and action, Islam
was likely to break up in numerous factions like other religions which
had splitted on the issue of leadership.
Actually, the situation was
even more complicated because the divisive forces instantly surfaced in
Medina, the hometown of Bani-Qahtan whose two tribes, the Aus and Khazraj,
had welcomed the Prophet in their town, provided asylum to the persecuted
Muslims and treated them as their brothers with an exemplary magnanimity
and self-sacrificing zeal that had been praised by God:
"Those who entered the city
and faith before them, love those who flee unto them for refuge."
Medina had been the hometown
of these people where they had been living for centuries before the immigrants
had come to settle there. Therefore, it was not at all astonishing if they
considered one of them to be entitled to succeed the Prophet as the leader
of the community. Such a claim was rather justified in the obtaining circumstances
and polity [realm] of Arabin city states. 'Umar lost no time in grasping
the complexity of the situation and the psychological reasons behind it.
He visualised through his God-gifted intelligence and foresight, as he
had on several occasions earlier, the grave danger that lay ahead. He knew
that any delay on the part of those who were responsible for maintaining
unity and consensus among Muslims could be disastrous.
He, therefore, did not procrastinate
in the election of the Caliph. He made haste because certain Ansars of
Medina had mooted the question of having the Caliph from their own ranks.
They were not entirely unjustified in their proposal since they were the
original inhabitants of the city, but their two powerful clans, the Aus
and Khazraj, had been at loggerheads for a long time in the recent past.
'Umar also knew that the people of Arabia would be agreeable to accept
the leadership of guraish only because they had held that position in the
past. He, therefore, induced the Muslims to pledge fealty to Abu Bakr at
Thaqifa Bani Sa'eda so that no internal dissensions might crop up among
the Muslims. It was the time when the Prophet had just died and his burial
had yet to take place and unanimity among Muslims was still intact. If
a leader of Muslims was elected at the moment, he would naturally superintend
the last rites of the Prophet as their leader.
The next day, people swore
allegiance to Abu Bakr in the Mosque of the Prophet. Abu Bakr said after
praising the Lord, "Lo : I have been charged with the responsibility of
acting as your chief. I am not the best among you; if I do well, support
me; if I make any mistake, counsel me. To tell the truth is faithful allegiance;
to conceal it is treason. Those who are weak among you are strong in my
sight until I restore their rights to them; and the strong are weak in
my sight until I make them restore the rights of others. Of a fact, the
people who give up striving in the way of God are abased; the people who
allow lewdness to flourish among them are made to suffer hardships by Allah.
As I obey Allah, obey me; if I neglect Allah and His Apostle, I have no
more right to your obedience. Now come and perform the prayers. May Allah
have mercy on you."
The election of Caliph Abu
Bakr was not fortuitous, nor was it the result of any collusion that one
may claim that there was some secret understanding between certain persons
which came to fruition. It had been ordained by God, the Most Wise, since
He had decided in His Mercy that Islam shall live and prosper. The election
of the first Caliph was also in accordance with the usage of the Arabs
who decided all matters of significance through an unfettered discussion
and consultation and elected a chieftain who was ripe in age, mature in
Judgement, sincere and accomplished in leading the people in war and peace.
This had been their practice since ages past.
An eminent Muslim penman,
Justice Amir 'Ali, who happened to be a Shia, has described the practice
of the Arabs in this regard. He says :
"Among the Arabs, the chieftaincy
of a tribe is not hereditary, but elective; the principle of universal
suffrage is recognised in its extremest form, and all the members of a
tribe have a voice in the election of their chief. The election is made
on the basis of seniority among the surviving male members of the deceased
chieftain's family. This old tribal custom was followed in the choice of
a successor to the Prophet, for the urgency of the times admitted of no
delay. Abu Bakr, who by virtue of his age and the position he had held
at Mecca occupied a high place in the estimation of the Arabs, was hastily
elected to the office of Khalifa (Caliph) or vicegerent of the Prophet.
He was recognised as a man of wisdom and moderation, and his election was
accepted with their usual devotion to the faith by 'Ali and chief members
of Mohammad's family."
The Muslims, especially the
Arabs, were really spared of hereditary autocracy by the election of Caliph
Abu Bakr. [A] Dynastic form of government is based on [an] ancestral relationship
in which race and blood assume undue importance and more often than not
a particular person or his family comes to be sanctified as exalted and
holy. Had anyone belonging to Bani Hashim been elected as the first Caliph,
for which they were "undoubtedly fully qualified, their religious and spiritual
authority would have combined with their temporal ascendancy, and Islam
would have developed a form of priesthood akin to the clerical system of
the Christians. This would have surely given birth to an organised church
and priestly order with all the attendant evils of this system in Christianity,
Zoroastrianinsm and Brahminism. Religious, spiritual and political leadership
in Islam would have combined with an autocratic form of government in which
all the powers would have converged in a particular family, allowing it
full scope for exploitation of the people. The coming generations would
have regarded them as their rulers possessing supernatural powers. Entitled
to receive tithes and tributes from their followers, they would have lived
a life of ease and pleasure. But this would have been contrary to the spirit
and objective of the teachings of the Prophet who had forbidden Banu Hashim
to receive the poor-due. The purpose behind this directive was that the
Prophet never wanted his progeny to become bloodsuckers, living on the
earnings of others. Abu Huraira relates, "Once Hasan b. 'Ali had taken
a date received by way of charity. As soon as the Prophet saw it, he made
Hasan vomit it, saying, 'Do you not know that
we never take anything of charity?' " Another lengthy report
handed down from 'Abdul Muttalib b. Rabi'a b. al-Harith contains the words,
"Charity is like dirt of [in the] hands of the people which is not permissible
to the Prophet and his progeny."
[The] Prophet's household
and the progeny of Hashim have been spared the ignominy thus described
by the Qur'an : "O you who believe! Surely many of the priests and monks
devour the substance of men in falsehood." [Qur'an 9:34]Contrarily,
the Prophet always used to encourage his near relations to face tribulation
and danger. 'Ali has also referred to this practice of the Prophet in one
of his letters to Mu'awiyah in which he wrote : "When the fire of battle
was hottest and the people seemed [to lose] hope, the Prophet used to ask
the members of his family to go ahead and save others from the enemy's
swords and lances. It was thus that 'Ubayda b. Harith was killed in Badr,
Hamza in Uhad and Ja'afar in Muta.
And, if the two leaderships
(the spiritual and temporal) had been conferred upon Bani Hashim by way
of inheritance, it would have remained with them perpetually. Certain Quraishites
had then candidly observed that had [the] Bani Hashim been made rulers
over you, statecraft would have become their exclusive preserve and no
other clan of the Quraish would ever have become rulers.
All those who have studied
the history of [the] reformatory and revivalist movements would be conversant
with the endeavours initiated for a religious renaissance which ended up
with the advancement of any particular family, carving out a personal kingdom,
or enabling any particular family to attain political influence. That is
why those who are endowed with insight and comprehension of religious spirit,
are always sceptical of these movements as they are never sure about their
ultimate outcome. It would be relevant to recall here the conversation
between Heraclius and Abu Sufian after the Prophet sent a letter to the
former inviting him to Islam. It shows the reaction of Heraclius and what
he wanted to know about the Prophet in order to form an estimate of him
and his mission. He asked Abu Sufian: 'Had there been any king in his family?'
When Abu Sufian replied in negative, Heraclius remarked: 'Had it been so.
I would have surmised that he was trying to recover his lost kingdom.'
It is apparent that God had in His Wisdom already destined that nobody
from the Prophet's family or one of the Hashamites should immediately succeed
him as his Caliph. The question asked by Heraclius shows his knowledge
of history. He wanted to ascertain if the man claiming prophethood was
interested in establishing a hereditary kingdom. But, if a hereditary kingdom
had actually come to be established in spite of it through a near relation
of the Prophet succeeding him, the verdict of history would have nevertheless
been that the prophetic mission of the Apostle of God was meant to vest
his descendants with the mantle of kingship, power and glory rather than
for preaching the message of God. It was an affair preordained by God that
Abu Bakr of the clan of Bani Taym should be elected as the vicegerent of
the holy Prophet. Abu Bakr was succeeded by 'Umar of Bani 'Adi. 'Uthman
belonging to Banu Umayyah took over from 'Umar and then 'Ali b. Abi Talib,
the worthiest man in his clan, in fact, among the companions of the Prophet
then alive, was chosen to take up the responsibility. The line of succession
had by then removed all chances of any misunderstanding that the temporal
authority and command belonged to the household of the Prophet. The sequence
of succession left no occasion for anyone to make an allegation about graft
or jobbery against the Prophet's family.
Steadfastness of Abu Bakr
All the biographers of the
Prophet and scholars of Traditions are agreed that the Prophet had said,
"We prophets do not bequeath anything to anyone;
whatever we leave goes to charity."
Ahmad, the compiler of [the]
an authoritative work on Traditions, relates from Abu Huraira that Allah's
Apostle said, "My descendants shall not apportion
dinar and dirham amongst them. Whatever I shall leave, apart from the maintenance
of my wives and their agent, shall go to charities."
Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud
have recorded the above report of Abu Huraira which has been handed down
by Malik b. Anas. Bukari relates from 'Urwah who heard it from 'A'isha:
"When the Prophet died and his wives expressed the desire to ask 'Uthman
to approach Abu Bakr for giving them their share of Prophet's inheritance,
'A'isha intervened to say: 'Did you not listen the Prophet saying that
we do not bequeath any property! Whatever we leave goes to charities.'
A similar report finds a
place in the Sahih of Muslim. The approach of the Prophet in the matter
of inheritance was not only befitting of a messenger of God but also in
keeping with his demeanour. Whenever there was any occasion of danger or
it became necessary to bear some loss, the Prophet asked the members of
his own household or one belonging to Bani Hashim to step forward, but
where any advantage was to be had, he asked them to fall behind. In the
battle of Badr, as stated earlier, he sent forward Hamza, 'Ali and Abu
'Ubayda to face the three veteran warriors of the enemy. A major source
of income for the Muslim community, since the time of the Prophet to this
day, is zakat or the poor-due, but the Prophet made it unlawful
for his own progeny and the descendants of Banu Hashim to derive any benefit
from it. On the occasion of farewell pilgrimage, the Prophet abolished
interest bearing loans and announced simultaneously,: "The
first of our usury I abolish is that of my own uncle 'Abbas b. 'Abdul Muttalib."
On the same occasion he annulled the claims of blood-vengeance and the
first claim on blood he proclaimed to have been remitted was that of Ibn
Rabi'a b. al-Harith, b. 'Abdul Muttalib, his own nephew. The proclamation
made by him was:
usury of the day of Ignorance is abolished, and the first of our usury
I abolish is that of my own uncle, 'Abbas b. 'Abdul Muttalib, and all of
it is abolished. And claims of blood-vengeance belonging to the pre- Islamic
days have been waived. The first claim on blood I give up is that of Ibn
Rabi'a b. Al-Harith." Soon after Abu Bakr took over as Caliph,
he had to face a difficult problem - a delicate issue for him since it
involved a perplexing question of emotional nature. It was a question relating
to Shari'ah, but had a political aspect also. It was also a sensitive
matter and required to be dealt with in accordance with the pronouncement
and practice of his departed master, the Messenger of God.
Bukhari has narrated this
incident on the authority of A'isha:
"Fatima and 'Abbas
called upon Abu Bakr and demanded the legacy of Allah's Prophet. Both asked
for the land in Fidak as well as the Prophet's share (of booty) in Khaybar.
Abu Bakr said to them, 'I have heard the Prophet saying, "We do not bequeath
any property to anyone; whatever we leave is to be deemed as charities."
Therefore, I will allow only maintenance to the descendants of the Prophet.
According to another report Abu Bakr replied : "I have heard that the prophets
do not have legatees [heirs] but I will meet such of their expenses as
were defrayed by the Prophet.""
There are other reports also
which corroborate the determination of Abu Bakr never to deviate, [not]
even slightly, from the practice of the Prophet and follow only what he
knew to be the Prophet's will. Fatima, however, continued to insist on
right of inheritance either because she was not aware of the Prophet's
will or she considered the Caliph competent to meet her wishes. Be that
as it may, both held [steadfastly] to their views.
Ahmad ibn Hanbal relates
Fatima as saying to Abu Bakr: 'You know better what you had heard from
Fatima remained alive for
six months after the death of the Prophet. She held herself aloof from
Abu Bakr which shows that her grievance also persisted. Such complaints
and misunderstandings are, however, not uncommon among near relations.
Often one becomes very touchy about minor matters, particularly if one
considers oneself to be right. But the differences between Fatima and Abu
Bakr never developed into animosity. Fatima's resentment was marked by
a restraint which speaks of her civility and cordiality which were the
essential features of her character. 'Amir narrates that when Fatima became
seriously ill, Abu Bakr paid a visit to her and asked for the permission
to see her. 'Ali said to Fatima, "Abu Bakr is standing at the door and
wants to come in. If you have no objection allow him to see you." Fatima
asked, "Would you like me to permit him?" 'Ali replied in affir- mative
and she gave her consent. Abu Bakr went in and offered his apologies and
Fatima was no more displeased with him. We bring the discussion on this
issue to an end with the observations of 'Abbas Mahmad al-'Aqqad who writes
in the Al-'Abqariyat al-Islamiyah that "it is not at all reasonable
to doubt the fidelity of Abu Bakr to the Prophet simply because he did
not allow Fatima to inherit the legacy of the Prophet. If this was his
attitude in the case of Fatima, he had also disallowed inheritance to his
own daughter A'isha, since there could be no legatees to a Prophet under
the Islamic law. In fact, Abu Bakr never wanted to refuse inheritance to
the legatees of the Prophet, one of whom was his own beloved daughter A'isha,
but he did not want to deviate from the will of the Prophet and the religious
injunctions. To uphold religion was in his view more important than to
save any family from the financial loss.
Abu Bakr had no other choice
save what he decided in the matter of Prophet's inheritance. He knew that
the prophets do not have legatees as the Prophet had himself told him.
When Abu Bakr was about to die, he instructed A'isha to forego everything
he had given her in favour of the Muslims, although she was entitled to
possess them as a legacy and gift from her father.
I cannot proceed further
without saying something more about Fatima, the daughter of Allah's Apostle.
Fatima Zahra was the youngest
and most beloved child of her father. Waqidi relates on the authority of
Abu J'afar al- Baqir that 'Abbas said, "'Fatima was born when K'aba was
being reconstructed and the Prophet was thirty-five years of age." Mada'ini
also corroborates this statement but another report says that Fatima was
born a year and few days before the prophethood of her father. She was
married to 'Ali in the beginning of Muharram 2 A. H.
A Shi'ite scholar Shaikh
Abu J'afar al-Tusi has provided incontrovertible evidence that Abu Bakr
had taken up the responsibility of purchasing the articles given to Fatima
as her dowry. Similarly A'isha and Umm Salma had lent assistance to 'Ali
in cleaning and preparing his house for the marriage. Fatima was the only
daughter of the Prophet who had children and hence her descendants came
to be regarded as the progeny of the Prophet. At the time of her marriage,
she was fifteen and a half years of age. Tabrani narrates from A'isha that
next to the Prophet she had found Fatima as the most pious. 'Abdur Razzaq
relates from Ibn Juraih that Fatima was the youngest daughter of the Prophet
as well as dearest to him. Abu 'Umar says that among the daughters of the
Prophet, Zaynab was the eldest, Ruqaiya was the next, then Umm Kulthum
and the youngest was Fatima.
Abdur Rahman b. Abi Nuaym
relates on the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri that the Prophet once said:
'Fatima is the leader of women in Paradise.'
All the six authentic collections of hadith record the saying of the Prophet
who once said in a sermon delivered from the pulpit of the Mosque : "Fatima
is a part of my body. Whatever annoys her, irks me too. Whoever disturbs
her, causes trouble to me also."
A'isha states, "Once I saw
Fatima coming. The way she was walking, exactly resembled that of Allah's
Apostle. So long as Fatima was alive, Ali did not take any other lady into
marriage." 'Uqba b. Yaraym relates from Abu Th'alaba al-Khashni,: "Whenever
the Prophet returned from a journey or an expedition, he first went to
the Mosque where he offered two raka'ts of prayer, thereafter he
went to see Fatima. After that he met his wives." 'A'isha b. Talha narrates
on the authority of A'isha who once said, "I have not seen anyone bearing
a greater resemblance to the Prophet in speaking than Fatima." Fatima was
always extremely mindful of the likes and dislikes of the Prophet and considered
nothing [any] more important than to win her father's pleasure. On the
other hand, many incidents are on record to show the intensity of Prophet's
love for his daughter.
Abdullah b. 'Umar says :
'Whenever the Prophet went out on a journey he had the last word with Fatima
and whenever he returned home, he first saw Fatima.' When the Prophet returned
from the expedition of Tabuk he learnt that Fatima had purchased a 'headscarf
and dyed it in saffron, hnng a curtain on her door and perhaps spread a
mat in her house. As the Prophet saw these articles, he returned and sat
down in the mosque. Fatima sent for Bilal and asked him to find out why
the Prophet had gone back from her door. Bilal went to the Prophet and
asked him the reason for coming back. The Prophet told him about the things
he had seen and then Bilal communicated it to Fatima who at once removed
the objectionable things. She also changed her dress and put on the old
and patched clothing. Then Bilal again went to the Prophet and informed
him of it. The Prophet went to Fatima and said to her, "My
father be your ransom, keep on in this manner."
Ibn 'Umar relates, "'Once
Allah's Apostle went to the house of Fatima but did not enter the house.
He returned from the doorsteps. Fatima told 'Ali about it, who went to
the Prophet and enquired the reason for not going inside his house. The
Prophet replied, 'I have seen a curtain hanging
on the door. What have we to do with the world (meaning decoration).'
'Ali narrated the reply given by the Prophet to Fatima who said, 'Let me
know his wish and I would comply.' 'Ali again went to the Prophet and asked
him what he wanted. The Prophet thereupon told him to send the curtain
to a certain person who needed it."
Thauban, a slave of the Prophet,
narrates : 'Whenever the Prophet went away on a journey, the last thing
he did was to visit Fatima. Similarly, on return he first met Fatima. Once
when he returned from an expedition, he saw a curtain hanging on the door
of Fatima's house. He also saw Hassan and Hussain wearing silver bracelets.
The Prophet stayed and did not enter the house. Fatima at once perceived
the reason and she got the curtain and the bracelets taken off. The children
went weepingly to the Prophet who took the bracelets and said to Tauban,
these to such and such person.' Then pointing towards Hasan
and Hussain he continued: 'These are the members
of my household. I do not want them to enjoy the life of this world.
Thauban, bring a necklace of date leaves for Fatima and also two bracelets
The deep and abiding love
of Fatima for the Prophet is believable since he was her father besides
being the Apostle of God and the most admired of all the persons. Her utterance
after the death of the Prophet was more mournful than a long elegy. After
the burial of the Prophet was over, she said, "O Anas ! How did they throw
dust on the Prophet?"
Fatima died six months after
the Prophet had breathed his last. The Prophet had assured her that she
would be the first to meet him after leaving this fleeting world. He had
also once told her : "Are you not pleased that
you will be the head of all the women in paradise ?"
Imam Malik reports from Jafar
Sadiq (who heard it from Zainul Abidin) that Fatima died in the evening
between maghrib and 'isha prayers. Abu Bakr, 'Umar, Zubayr
and 'Abdur Rahman b. 'Auf came to 'All on hearing the news. 'Ali asked
Abu Bakr to lead the funeral prayers. Abu Bakr objected to lead the prayers
in his presence, but Ali insisted and he yielded to his desire. She was
buried in the same night. Ibn S'ad confirms this report in the Tabaqat.
He says that Mutrif b. "Abdullah al- Yasari told him on the authority of
Abdul 'Ala and Ibrahim that Abu Bakr led the funeral prayer of Fatima with
four takbirs. 'Abdur Razzaq cites Ibn Juraih who said : 'Fatima
was the youngest daughter of the Prophet and also dearest to him.' Abu
Umar says that the four daughters of the Prophet were Zaynab, Ruqaiya,
Umm Kulthum and Fatima." As Waqidi reports, she died on the 3rd of Ramadan,
11 A. H / 22 November, 633 A. D. and she was buried the same night. She
gave birth to Hasan, Hussain, Muhsin, Umm Kulthum and Zaynab. May God be
pleased with her.
Ali's Oath of Allegiance
to Abu Bakr
Reports differ about the
timing of 'Ali's oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr. Hafiz Abu Bakr al-Baihaqi
relates on the authority of Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri: 'Abu Bakr ascended the
pulpit and cast a glance on the people. He did not find 'Ali among them.
So he sent for 'Ali and said, "O brother and son-in-law of the Prophet,
would you like that the unity among Muslims should be torn to pieces ?"
'Ali replied, "I have no grudge or complaint, O Caliph, of the Prophet."
He immediately swore allegiance to him. Al-Baihaqi adds that 'Ali uttered
these words or this was their purport.
Ibn Kathir adds : 'A significant
aspect of this affair is that 'Ali took the oath of allegiance on the very
first day or the day following the death of the Prophet. This is correct
in point of fact since 'Ali never gave up Abu Bakr's companionship nor
he absented himself in any congregational prayer.
It is commonly believed that
'Ali did not initially take the oath of fealty to Abu Bakr in deference
to the wishes and sentiments of Fatima. He took the oath publicly six months
later when Fatima had died. Ibn Kathir and other historians are of the
view that the subsequent oath of allegiance by 'Ali was in confirmation
of the first one. A number of reports to this effect are on record in the
six authentic compilations of the Traditions [Hadiths] and other books.